Here's How To Tell If Your Garlic Has Gone Bad

We'll be the first to admit to getting carried away when we see bunches of beautiful garlic hanging at a farmer's market, because what's not to love? This pungent, versatile ingredient goes with just about every savory dish imaginable from soups to salads, and from entrees to sides. And while we'd never get caught dead without garlic, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and the last thing we'd want to do is to buy garlic only to waste it because we haven't used it before it went bad.

Its easy to tell when fresh garlic has shot past its best-by date. Garlic is normally firm, so anything that feels mushy needs to go straight into the trash without a second thought. If it feels fine, go ahead and peel it — garlic should be white, but if it is yellowish or has brown spots, it may be starting to head south and go moldy. Kitchen Sanity says this will be about the time when the dish will impart a "hot" flavor. You might also want to smell the garlic – your nose will tell you if the garlic smells like its ready to party in the dish you're preparing, or if it is beyond salvation because it will smell sour or unpleasant – in other words, not garlicky at all.

How you can store garlic to keep it fresh

If you keep your garlic untouched and unpeeled, a whole, unpeeled head of garlic can actually keep going strong for up to about six months — particularly if it is stored properly. If you have unpeeled cloves, you can expect to have these last for about three weeks, but Bon Appetit says freshly peeled and chopped garlic won't be much good after two to three days (if you're lucky that is). So the cooking site recommends that you buy whole, unpeeled heads of garlic, and that you only peel as much as you need for the dish you are preparing. 

Eat By Date says garlic is happiest when it is stored in an open container, in a cool, dark place, and with plenty of air. The fridge may not be your best bet because the environment it provides will actually give your garlic a reason to sprout. A garlic with a green top isn't one you need to throw away, but you'll need to manage your expectations because it won't taste the way you think it will.